As airlines begin to see a slow uptick in demand, experts predict that business travel will likely take years to recover and may never look the same post-pandemic. While business travelers make up 10 percent of passengers on major airlines, they account for up to 70% of industry sales, and airlines have long counted on them for purchasing premium tickets and services like airline credit cards and airport lounge memberships. With businesses cutting back on travel budgets, virtual meeting platforms are pushing companies to rethink the necessity of both internal corporate travel and one-meeting trips.
- The end of business travel also means a hit to the already struggling hotel industry, which relies heavily on corporate travel. McKinsey projects it could take until at least 2023 to return to pre-pandemic occupancy.
- Some business travelers are opting for road trips for corporate travel previously done via airplane. The average car rental length has risen amid the pandemic.
- As airlines struggle to survive, some are packing their flights, while others — such as Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines — continue to block off certain seats so passengers can maintain social distance, reports The New York Times.